Steven Negron: Learning Compassion After 9/11
By Rob Hull
The 700 Club
CBN.com-Stephen Negron loved the streets, the sirens, and the adrenalin rush that came with every emergency call. He’s an emergency responder for the New York City Fire Department, but his devotion to his job and the party lifestyle with his co-workers cost him his first marriage.
“I wanted to either be at my job 24 hours a day or I would be out with my friends partying. Sometimes we would come to work straight out of the club.” Steven says.
His need for excitement started on the streets of the Bronx, New York, where he was involved with crime and gangs as a boy.
“Because they were older than me I was always trying to prove myself with them and doing the drugs and robbing people. The more trouble I was in, the better I felt.”
His experiences as a young man left him emotionally detached and numb. Traits he carried with him into his work.
“I wanted to have the adrenaline rush. I would take the risk for anyone and I would go into any danger for anyone. I never did it because I felt the compassion for a person. Again, I did it for my adrenaline. It was my job. I had no emotions as far as loving another person. I was disconnected completely as far as feeling alive.”
That began to change on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Steve was at home when he got a call from work.
“They told me, ‘turn on the television a plane just hit the twin towers.’ The adrenaline started running and as we’re driving in we noticed people running towards us so we had to stop the vehicle exactly where we were. Our thing was to get those people to safety and we got them into the truck and got them out of the area. I’m getting frustrated because the adrenaline is not getting filled. I want to go in.”
But the number of injured people they encountered on the street prevented them from entering the building.
“I didn’t know we were in the vicinity of the second tower while it was going down. By the time I was able to go any further the collapse had occurred, if not I would have been among the pile.”
For the next several days, Steve worked with recovery crews passing buckets of debris at ground zero. He saw the emotion of the people around him but he still felt nothing.
“The faith or the hope that kept me going this time was that there was someone there that I could pull out. When they told me to go back, that kind of came like a cloud over me I started feeling depressed like I would make a difference and now they’re pulling me out. And I recall telling my partner who came to pick me up that I felt there was something wrong with me. These people are really hurting and at this moment I’m actually feeling like I’m just doing a job.”
Steve bowed his head and prayed.
“I had not prayed in years, especially the lifestyle I was living. And my prayer was very specific I said ‘Lord, I need to feel alive again. I feel that I have a heart that’s not beating. I don’t want to feel this way.’ I said, ‘God let me see with your eyes and let me feel with your heart what you’re feeling now.’ Suddenly I felt God’s hand touch me. Tears start coming down my eyes and to me that was impossibility. I felt good, like for the first time in my life God was actually with me.”
Over the next few days Steve says God changed his life. He went back to ground zero, this time filled with compassion.
“When God touched me everything just completely changed. I was seeing life differently. So I wanted to go back but it wasn’t because of adrenaline this time. I wanted to go back to save people. I wanted to save them physically. I wanted to save them spiritually.”
He says he knows that it was the grace of God that kept him from entering the towers that day, and he’s thankful that he’s been given more time.
“My frustration of getting into the building and all those people He kept sending my way to keep me from going into the building. I know that was His divine hand. He kept me from the danger. I think I was given a chance because if I would have went down that day I would not spend eternity with God. He gave me another chance.”
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.